A group of Watch Lake-Green Lake residents has launched a petition in support of a Telus proposal to install wireless service in their area.
The proposal, which will go to the Cariboo Regional District Board Friday for consideration, would see the construction of a 63.1-meter tall self-support tower on an 80-acre privately-owned lot at 6235 Green Lake North Rd. near Watch Lake. According to Telus, the proposed facility will provide “dependable voice and data service to the Watch Lake community and improve personal safety as the majority of emergency calls are made using wireless devices.”
Angela Wynton, who started the petition, said wireless cell service is desperately needed in the rural area, which is home to several seniors and prone to a high number of power outages. With such spotty service and large distances between communities, she said, it’s unsafe for people who might break down or get stuck on the roads during winter or fall in their homes and can’t get up.
“It’s an overall safety concern,” Wynton said. “It’s something that people need. It’s the way the world is going.”
About 144 people signed the petition in favour of the proposal, with four additional letters in support. However, one person objected to the project saying they had “left the city to get away from these towers.”
Maureen LeBourdais, CRD director for Horsefly – Likely – 150 Mile House said the proposal will go to the board Friday for “concurrence.” Although she wouldn’t speculate on the outcome of the meeting, she noted the CRD’s broadband strategy’s priorities for wireless and broadband services includes areas along highway corridors.
“Generally speaking this is what we want to see,” she said. “We do know that this area is one of our priority areas for the sake of fire and community safety.”
She noted, however, that residents’ support is crucial. The CRD recently opposed a proposal by Rogers to set up a wireless tower near 141 Mile after concerns from residents. The CRD asked Rogers to do another public consultation, which found that the area was already highly served and most residents didn’t want the tower.
“The need was not demonstrated,” LeBourdais said. “Our priority is major corridors but this section was already served.”
The CRD’s recent report on broadband connectivity offers a comprehensive look at the current state of connectivity in the region, identifies key areas for improvement, and offers some insights into prospective approaches for bringing modern levels of broadband service to the Cariboo.